Here’s an update on Cassidy from Casey:
After Terry rode Cassidy in the morning, I did some additional groundwork that would support continued growth under saddle. The first thing I worked on was bridling. Cassidy would try to avoid the bit by wringing her neck and sending the bit in the air (yikes!), lifting her head, or lowering her head. This is something that we see at SAFE quite a bit when we are starting or restarting horses. Maybe they’re concerned about the bridle going into their blind spot, or that the bit is going to hit their teeth. Whatever it is, there is a method that has consistently been successful in helping our horses understand and accept the bridle, and it’s one that Buck Brannaman and Joel Conner teach (https://eclectic-horseman.com/bridling-your-horse-with-buck-brannaman). I ran through this process, and Cassidy was opening her mouth for the bit without my thumb within 15 minutes. When Terry got her out the next morning, she bridled without issue.
Once the bridle was on, Cassidy’s mouth was very active, and she wasn’t quite sure what it was all about. To help her understand, I did a lot of bending from the ground. At first, I had to pull her around in each direction, but it wasn’t long before she was reaching for me, and I didn’t have to put any weight on the bit at all. Once I had this working, I asked her to walk off, then I bent her and waited for her feet to stop (essentially a one-rein stop under saddle). This exercise helps ensure that subsequent rides are safer and more productive. By the end of the session, her mouth became quiet. Cassidy’s transformation since she arrived at SAFE is remarkable. I’m excited to see how she does with Terry under saddle!